Biography

Crystal first discovered her love of chemistry as a high school student in Friendswood, TX. In 2008, she moved to Berkeley, CA for college, where she gained an appreciation for multidisciplinary research, particularly at the intersection of organic chemistry, materials, and medicine. At UC Berkeley, she spent a year learning synthetic biology techniques with Professor Michelle Chang and two years in the laboratory of Professor Jean M. J. Fr├ęchet developing organic materials for drug delivery and electronics applications. In 2012, Crystal moved to southern California to pursue her doctorate in chemistry at Caltech. There, she studied novel reactivity and selectivity in transition metal-catalyzed reactions, including cross couplings, oxidations, and olefin metathesis, in the groups of Professor Robert Grubbs and Professor Gregory Fu. Following the completion of her Ph.D. in 2017, Crystal ventured to the East Coast, where she is currently an NIH Postdoctoral Fellow with Professor Robert Langer and Professor Daniel Anderson in MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research. Her research focuses on establishing structure-property relationships that enable the molecular design of biomaterials, including bioinspired fibers and glucose-responsive hydrogels. The Chu Group’s long term interests lie at the intersection of chemistry, engineering, and materials science, with the ultimate goal of deciphering molecular mechanisms to tune mechanical properties and function of hydrogel-based biomaterials for therapeutic applications.